Women’s Court – Foca Case: Public Presentation in IZ KRUGA VOJVODINA

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Public presentation themed Women’s Court – Foca Case:  feminist approach to justice took place in Novi Sad, in the premises of IZ KRUGA VOJVODINA on March 2, 2024. Women in Black and Autonomous Women’s Center organized the meeting in cooperation with Women’s Studies and Research.

Stasa Zajovic explained in the introduction that the Women’s Court – Foca Case was dedicated to the disclosure of systematic sexual violence and rape in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992. to 1995. Owing to the courage of the women of Foca and the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the way was paved for women all over the world in the fight for the punishment of war crimes of rape. The International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia established for the first time in the Foca Case that sexual slavery is considered a crime against humanity. Nonetheless, despite this historically significant verdict, some of the sexual crimes against women and men of Foca still haven’t been unmasked and recognized but are suppressed and forgotten. The Women’s Court – the Foca Case is a continuation of the fight, together with the women and men of Foca, for justice for the victims of sexual crimes in Foca and beyond.

The forty-two-minute documentary film The Women’s Court – Foca Case: Feminist Approach to Justice, directed by Marija Arandjelovic and produced by Women in Black, followed. The film portrays the testifies of the survivors at the Women’s Court – Foca Case held in Belgrade on June 26, 2023, and the interpretation of the political context based on testimonies. Ivana Konjo, Zenija Hajdarevic, Halida Konjo Uzunovic, and Kemalemir Frasto gave their testimonies. 

After the screening of the film, the witness Kemalemir Frasto, Foca/USA, joined online and said, among other things:

It means a lot to me that you’ve seen the film about our testimonies. I decided to talk after 31 years, to come to Belgrade to Women’s Court. I have been silent for a long time, but I had to start talking for historical reasons, for my ancestors who didn’t talk about things happening to them in the Second World War, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I made a decision to break the silence. It means a lot to me that openhearted people stand by us, victims. We are not merely victims but are victors because we decided to talk. I do feel doleful but am also happy because I started to pick up the pieces that were scattered. I did this with the great help of Stasa Zajovic and Women in Black. 

In the discussion, the participants talked about the responsibility of the system for the continuity of impunity for violence in general and sexual violence in particular, both in war and peace. It was emphasized that there are very few verdicts for sexual violence and that the punishments are minimal. Sexual violence is a taboo topic even in women’s groups; the issue of violence is mainly reduced to the family context or the gender dimension, while other identities are neglected, and there is a lack of intersectional understanding of sexual violence.

The organizers handed out copies of the book Women’s Court – Foca Case: Feminist Approach to Justice and maps of camps in Foca during the war conflicts – We Remember the Crimes! Foca Case.

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